- allows doctors to detect the eye problem retinopathy of prematurity, which is the leading cause of blindness in premature babies. of the new child is often matched with a great fear for the health of the newborn. One common problem that affects preemies affects their eyes and could leave them blind, but there's a new camera that's allowing earlier diagnosis and treatment.
It's called a Retcam and it allows doctors to detect the eye problem retinopathy of prematurity, which is the leading cause of blindness in premature babies.
"It's a disorder where the blood vessels in the back of the eye stop growing too early. 9 out of 10 times (it) resolves itself spontaneously and the children will be just fine. However 1 in 10 goes on to have severe ROP which can lead to permanent visual impairment," explained Pediatric Opthalmologist Dr. Edward Guthrie.
For mother Myriane Placid, she was worried about her son Max after he was born prematurely.
"He had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck 3 times. I heard the nurse say we have a pulse and they ran with him."
Since then Max has been in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Broward General Hospital. Dr. Guthrie routinely checks the eyes of preemies using a type of scope he wears on his head.But this does not always provide the best picture of the back of the eye. But the Retcam is giving doctors and parents piece of mind.
"By having the Retcam at Broward General NICU what we're able to do is photo document the changes that either are or are not occurring in the back of the baby's eyes. And then we can actually share these photos with the parents which helps to empower them with knowledge and make them part of the decision making team," Guthrie said.
4,600 babies in the United States go blind each year from retinopathy of prematurity. Guthrie believes using the Retcam will become standard practice in the near future.
"The key to ROP treatment is early diagnosis and early treatment. And what I tell people is it's a lot easier to put out a cigarette than a forest fire. "
While the Retcam is mainly used to detect ROP it also allows doctors to diagnose child abuse and shaken baby syndrome.